Taiwan gets a Maidan movement?

Hundreds of students remain barricaded in Taiwan's Legislature in protest of the ruling party's push for a Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement with the People's Republic of China. Protesters, most of them college students, stormed into the assembly hall of the Legislative Yuan, breaking the glass doors and blocking the entrances by piling up lawmakers' chairs to prevent police from entering. The protesters also took over the podium and rostrum in the chamber. The action was prompted March 18 when the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) cut short review of the trade agreement and sent the pact directly to the plenary session for its second reading. In response, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) boycotted the plenary session. Student leader Fei-fan Lin, speaking at a press conference, said: "We want the agreement to be recinded—not just back to the committee, but we want it thrown out, and tell China we are not signing this." (China Post, March 20; Taipei Times, CNN, VOA, March 19; Ketagalan Media, March 18)

In 2010 China and Taiwan signed the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (ECFA), significantly boosting cross-strait ties. The services agreement, signed last June, is part of the effort to implement that framework. The agreement would allow China to invest in 64 service sectors in Taiwan, including advertising, retail, print, healthcare and telecom. All Chinese businesses with over $200,000 in capital would be able to send workers to Taiwan on renewable visas. Opponents argue the agreement will hurt small businesses on Taiwan and threaten the island's democracy by mass immigration and investment. (Buzzfeed, The Economist, March 20)

  1. Sunflower Movement grows

    With Taiwan's Legislative Yuan still under occupation, police staged a late-night raid to evict hundreds of protesters who attempted to start an occupation at the Executive Yuan on March 24, arresting 61. (CNA) On March 30, the "Sunflower Movement" drew more than 300,000 to central Taipei to protest the trade agreement with China. Solidarity rallies were held in New York and several other cities around the world. (The Diplomat, China Post) See more at Democracy at 4 AM.